Many teams improved drastically from the offseason, while some regressed heavily. For the next few days, a set of NBA power rankings will be released and an analyzation of their offseason and position for the season.
The previous set of rankings showed teams that have talent more than other teams, but not enough to make the playoffs. These rankings of teams are those in the same strange positions, except having a better chance to sneak into the playoffs. Nevertheless, here are the rankings from 20-16:
20. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers drop several rankings after they had a rough, but expected offseason, as the best player in their franchise, LeBron James, has left for the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron has made this team relevant for his whole career, and now the Cavs could be sent back to the pit of misery. However, they did resign All-Star Kevin Love to a 4-year deal and drafted PG Collin Sexton with the 8th pick. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance are players that can make strides next year with LeBron, not in the fold. Tyronn Lue will now have a tougher job to coach, as he will be without the best player in the league on his team. The Cavs have more talent than teams like the Magic and the Hawks, but will it be enough to make the playoffs makes this a lingering issue for Cleveland heading into the season.
19. Miami Heat
The Heat still has yet to sign Dwayne Wade, their best player, ironically traded around the trade deadline, last year. This team has barely generated any talent through the free agency or the draft, as their team made the playoffs largely based on the exceptional coaching of Erik Spoelstra. Hassan Whiteside hasn’t lived up to the contract as the Heat will look to trade him and his terrible contract, as he has had some problems with Spoelstra. Goran Dragic, James Johnson, and Bam Adebayo are all good players, but whether they are good enough to make the playoffs will be a concern heading into the season.
18. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons hired the best coach in the league last year, Dwane Casey. He will have a tall task, as his team consists of less talent than his previous team, the Toronto Raptors. The Pistons are led by two dominant bigs in Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, as well as PG Reggie Jackson. The Pistons missed the playoffs last year by decent enough games, and it is most likely they will miss it once again. They had a below average offseason, signing two benchwarmers in Jose Calderon and Zaza Pachulia. The amount of talent in the team may not be good enough to garner a playoff spot, as they will look to add someone via trade. If the Pistons do indeed make the playoffs, it will be through the amazing play of Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, as well as the coaching abilities of Dwane Casey.
17. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls had a good offseason, signing Jabari Parker and resigning Zach Lavine, producing a corp of Dunn, Lavine, Markkanen, Parker, and Carter. This team could quite possibly make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference, or can just forget about competition and net a high draft pick, grabbing great talent once again. Dunn provides great upside, especially among the defensive side of the court, as well as Wendell Carter Jr, who was drafted this year. Although Lavine’s contract seems like an overpay, he has tremendous athleticism and can shoot the ball. Markkanen is coming off a good year, averaging about 15 points and 7 rebounds a game last year, and will look to improve. The Bulls, along with coach Fred Hoiberg, could possibly steal a seed in the Eastern Conference.
16. Portland Trail Blazers
Getting swept by the 6th seed is miserable, but if Portland can quickly regroup from that stunning loss, they can possibly be the 7th or 8th seed as the season progresses. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are literally the only two good players on the team, as the rest of the player receive production solely on their playmaking abilities. Although Nurkic and Evan Turner are good players, they are sometimes inconsistent and will have to improve their game this year to at least stay in the playoff hunt. Portland will have to look to add players to at least have a chance in making the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference.